09 January 2011

Nice countries don’t do extra-judicial punishment

The following is an extract from an “In Brief” item in The Sunday Age, 9 January 2011, under the heading Palestinian slain in case of mistaken identity:

HEBRON. Members of an Israeli special forces unit hunting for a Hamas militant shot dead a 66-year-old Palestinian in his bed on Friday, mistaking him for the wanted man who lived in the same building. The killing, in front of the man’s wife, raised fresh questions about the military’s conduct and rules of engagement in the West Bank.

The army expressed regret for the killing, the latest in a string of fatal incidents in the past week.

The danger of killing the wrong person is just one of many good reasons why extra-judicial punishment of any form, but especially extra-judicial killing, is a thoroughly reprehensible practice which cannot be justified under any circumstances in a society which is supposed to be governed by the rule of law.

In addition, as noted by the paper, this incident certainly raises questions about the IDF’s conduct and rules of engagement.  This 66-year old man was in bed in his apartment, with his wife, and it was not possible for Israeli special forces to effect an arrest? Give me a break.

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